Councilor Column

Written by Jessica Rapp Grassetti                           

Excessive speeding and pedestrian safety throughout the village of Cotuit was the topic of a recent village visioning session at Freedom Hall. Police Chief Paul MacDonald, Director of Growth Management, JoAnne Miller Buntich and DPW Engineer, Clay Schofield listened and responded to the full hall of passionate pleas from residents concerned over the habitual violations of posted speed limits and the safety of pedestrians along our streets. Once again Putnam Avenue was discussed as the cars travel at such a high rate of speed creating a pedestrian safety risk. Maps were displayed and citizens marked up and identified specific areas of concern and provided valuable input. Following that meeting I met with Town Staff to walk, photograph and discuss in further detail these areas. Once Staff has had the opportunity to survey and outline possible solutions, a second session will be scheduled to detail recommendations.

Now that the Town of Barnstable has settled on a ten-year contract to haul our trash from the Transfer Station it is time to revisit the recycling component of that enterprise. Realizing that one shouldn’t operate in isolation and wanting to learn as much as possible on the subject, I have paid close attention to our neighboring communities and to the often passionate debate over the methods of trash disposal.

At this past summer’s solid waste workshop, Dan Santos, Director of DPW, briefed the Council on the selection of the contractor, New Bedford Waste Services and its partner ABC Disposal Services and how the newly negotiated contract will impact the Transfer Station fees. Where it was once anticipated that the sticker price, currently $160 per year, was going to double or perhaps triple, Mr. Santos assured us that that was not the case and most likely we would see only a modest increase in 2015. He also spoke to the recycling component of the station and though he proposed no changes at that time he did represent that a change from multi-stream recycling (separating plastic, metal, paper and glass into four separate containers) to a single stream process might be recommended in the future. This makes sense as under the new contract, recyclables are not figured into the tonnage costs and will be hauled away at no cost to the Town. In essence the Town already has a pay as you throw PAYT method in that residents and residential property owners making individual trips to the Transfer Station are allowed up to 8 bags (30 gallon each) limit for $15.00 per entry with $1 per bag over the limit without having to purchase an annual sticker. In the new year Barnstable residents and property owners that currently use the Transfer Station to recycle only will be required to sign up for a zero cost sticker and “free” recycling will no longer be available for non-residents. This will allow for more accurate recycling data collection and Barnstable will no longer be subsidizing other communities. In theory everyone who disposes trash should be recycling to comply with the State waste ban regulation that prohibits recyclables from the waste stream. Seventy-five thousand dollars has been appropriated in FY15 for the study and improvements to the Transfer Station with particular emphasis on improving the traffic flow and to prevent the numerous near misses and fender benders that currently occur due to the less than efficient traffic patterns.

Solid waste disposal and recycling begs many questions that need to be answered definitively by the Town Manager and his Staff. Should the current system at the Transfer Station be changed to a PAYT model? Should the Town consider Town-wide curbside trash pick-up and recycling? A ban on Styrofoam, plastic bags and containers? Mandate that trash haulers who operate in Barnstable provide recycling? Should multi-family facilities be required to recycle? Should the Town have a comprehensive policy regarding the disposing of all trash and recyclables rather than a piecemeal approach? The Council will be looking for the recommendations along with the honest math that gives true costs associated with implementing any significant changes, including the benefit savings to the residents in energy, time and money. Regardless of what happens, efforts need to be made to develop public education campaigns that promote waste reduction in both the private and local business sectors. It has been interesting to follow the Town of Mashpee’s misstep with the issue of PAYT or Save Money And Reduce Trash (SMART) and how the citizens felt excluded from the choice to change.

Please take the opportunity to stop by and discuss any Village or Town issue on the second Wednesday of every month from 3-5pm at the Cotuit Library. The next scheduled meeting is November 12. I am also available at (508) 360-2504 (cell) or weekdays at Town Hall 8:30-3:30 (508) 862-4738, Email Precinct7@comcast.net or for web updates and information follow me at www.BarnstablePrecinct7.com.

I welcome your questions and concerns and look forward to hearing from you.

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